Deeks has accomplished a lot in life, due in no small part to his intelligence and determination. But he is often underestimated by his teammates, who regularly mock his preparedness for an op. Many fan fiction writers like to put a spotlight on Deeks’ skills, to give him the credit he deserves for being more than just adequate at his job.
Hetty had taken them to a nice jazz club down the road. The team all congratulated Kensi on the outcome of the lawsuit.
“Hey, if it wasn’t for me there’s a very good chance Ms. Assault over here would have had to pay up.”
“No, Celeste dug herself a hole before she even opened her mouth.” Callen was impressed by Deeks’ skill today, but that didn’t mean he was going to actually tell him that.
“No, see, it was all me that showed the holes in her story. But that’s okay. I know you boys were impressed with what you saw today.” He smirked at everyone, putting the beer bottle to his mouth and taking a drink.
Sam got serious for a minute. “You were good in there today. A little scruffy, but if anyone can pull off the beach bum lawyer, it’s you Deeks.”
Everyone laughed. “Thanks, Sam.”
Deeks once described himself as a “highly skilled operative” [in “Enemy Within”], and despite Sam and Callen’s joking to the contrary, our group of fan fiction writers certainly believe he’s quite capable. Perhaps no fan fiction writer is more passionate about Deeks getting credit for his skills than Tess DiCorsi. Her Deeks certainly shows a great deal of skill and intelligence. She describes him this way: “Competent!Deeks is my favorite flavor. He’s a lawyer who it looks like got there with little or no help. He is fine with being disliked by some cops because he is doing the right thing. This is someone who was working long-term undercover cases for LAPD alone and worked those cases well enough to catch Hetty’s rather discerning eye. The case may go to hell but Deeks is going to try to figure out something so he can keep going. If you watch ‘Human Traffic’ – that’s how I see Deeks.”
Tess finds the television episodes where the characters are shown as less than competent to be among her least favorite. “…This is a program about people with skills and smarts,” she says. “Nobody on the program is dumb, even when they try to play stupid for comic or storytelling reasons. When they’re dumb or acting dumb (the ‘Big Brother’ episode comes to mind), they’re unwatchable. Get everyone working at the top of their game- the entire Sidorov story arc- and it is a great program.”
Sweet Lu, on the other hand, by and large sees the television Deeks as well represented. “I think that on the show, Deeks is a competent man and a confident one, but it’s more in the subtext then in anything written in the script. He’s sometimes overconfident. On the show he overplays sometimes trying to prove he’s good enough, but I don’t think they show him lacking in his abilities. He wouldn’t be there if he did, so I think the writers get that right.”
When he first arrived at NCIS, Kensi had openly questioned if he was the best the LAPD had to offer. She knows now that he deserved none of her doubt. Marty Deeks is one of the best cops she has ever seen. He’s a natural at going undercover and has a way with people that makes her wonder how he does it. He has street sense, something that is born, not made. And despite the fact that he never shows it, he’s sharp as a tack.
Our writers offer a variety of reasons for the occasional depiction of a less-than-competent Deeks. Belle Walker for one, names his lightheartedness as a contributing factor. “I think what makes him interesting is his depth of character,” she says. “He’s incredibly smart with many talents and yet he acts like a goofball for the most part. And even though he’s got a deeply serious (dare I say ‘dark’?) side of him that we’ve seen a few times on the show, he usually keeps it carefully hidden beneath a finely crafted sense of humor. And because of that, people don’t take him seriously most of the time and severely underestimate his capabilities.” Similarly, Tess blames his “surfer dude” demeanor. She says, “There are a lot of contradictions that make him an interesting character. He presents himself as this sort of classic California beach guy– surfer, former lifeguard, happy-go-lucky dog owner with a fun loving, SoCal vibe. He’s quietly more – a lawyer, a cop and now working with an elite anti-terrorism unit. There is a level of intensity to becoming those things that contradicts the surfer dude exterior.”
Tess sees an additional cause for this recurring issue, one that’s separate from Deeks’ personality: the writers’ ongoing need to include funny banter amongst the team. She describes it this way: “He’s competent on the show- he wouldn’t be on the team if he wasn’t but I think the show likes the cheap joke in either the opening bullpen scene or in the wrap up and sometimes (OK, usually) at the expense of Deeks. It either starts [with] Deeks being placed behind the others in the episode or undercuts all the good he did [such as] questioning his commitment [to the team] at the end of ‘Between the Lines’.”
When his CIA instruction began in September, Deeks wasn’t sure what the Agency expected him to be but competent was obviously a surprise. His second hand-to-hand training session ended when he broke the instructor’s nose. “We didn’t know you could fight,” the battered trainer explained. Obviously, Deeks thought, because why would an undercover operative for a major city police force know to fight? A move to the firing range had the instructor laughing, asking Deeks why he was there. He was assigned a Sig Sauer but allowed to keep his Beretta. Trips to the firing range were for practice and sparring at the gym more fell in line with his NCIS routine.
Luckily for us, these writers have all the power in the world to feature the capable Deeks they see. For ZeGabz, that means she can give us a Deeks who uses his smarts to launch his razor-sharp wit. “My Deeks is very clever,” she says. “I’ve read stories where Kensi always ends up with the other hand, but I think Deeks deserves a lot of credit. He was going to be a lawyer. He’s sharp- and every once in a while on the show you can really see that show through, especially when he’s bantering with Kensi. I try to make my Deeks as witty as possible, because I as a reader enjoy him the most when he lets his brains shine through.” Tess also likes a humorous Deeks, but she’s careful with how she sets up the laughs. “I think I do a reasonable job of writing some humor but I really don’t like writing it at Deeks’s (or anyone else’s) expense,” she describes. “I think the program sometimes mixes the laughing at a character with the laughing with a character.”
Tess not only likes to feature the skills that brought Deeks to the team, but points out that without him, the team would be lacking in many areas. “Hetty probably had a choice of any agent from any law enforcement agency out there and picked Deeks,” she says. “Callen suggested in ‘Fame’ that she probably had her eye on him for a while. That meant she saw skills and abilities that put him in the same range of a Navy SEAL and two highly trained Feds. I like to use that as a guide for the character and not make fun of the idea that his hair is longer than anyone’s but Kensi’s. That team needs someone who looks like a civilian. Deeks can’t pull off military the way Callen and Sam can but Sam isn’t going to pass as homeless and Callen probably wouldn’t like the janitor’s gear.”
Callen tried to catch his breath as he watched a dirty-looking man with stringy hair, limp and shuffle toward the man in front of him. He was mumbling to himself and nervously tapping his hand against his leg and holding a large envelope in the other. He looked totally strung out on drugs or in need of some, Callen wasn’t sure which.
“I got here… fast… fast this time… Mr. Garza.” There was something familiar about him, but Callen’s eye was starting to swell shut so he couldn’t get a good look at him. The junkie looked over at Callen and then at Sam lying on the floor, and Callen saw pale blue eyes flash in anger under greasy blond hair and Callen almost gasped in surprise as he looked into the filthy face of Marty Deeks.
Next week we’ll take a look at an assertive Deeks who says what he really means, not just to Kensi, but to his teammates as well. Let’s call him Direct Deeks.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
Bamie02, “Legal Advice”
ZeGabz, “Three Coffees”
Tess DeCorsi, “Scattered”
Sweet Lu, “The Junkie”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Deeks. It should not come as a surprise that Tess DiCorsi recommended one that features a highly competent Deeks. It’s called “Ready to Climb,” and features “Deeks dealing with a post-‘Kill House’ Nell.” As Tess describes, “There’s fun and games with Nell but there’s also a serious side of doing a job well and on the highest level. And if you want to read a hint of Deeks-Kensi, it’s there.”
Or, go back to the previous Writing Deeks, Domestic Densi.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.